Talking to the Man


I didn’t always take care of my teeth, not like I do today.  When I was little more than a kid, I used to walk over to Nate’s gym, pull on the gloves and spar with some of the young pros who’d pass through.  I wasn’t all that good at punching, but I could take a punch, which is why my teeth are a little crooked today.

But I’m not thinking about that when I walk into Mr. Purdy’s office with my application all filled out.  Filled out in black ink, no less.  He’s sitting there, glasses low on the bridge of his nose, lips pursed, looking over a computer printout.  He’s also ignoring the hell out of me.  I clear my throat.

“There a problem?” he says.  It’s not really a question, and he’s not expecting an answer.

I shift my weight from one foot to the other.  “Bob Spackle over in personnel sent me up here.  Asked if you wouldn’t mind looking over my paperwork.  He wanted to see if maybe I can fill that space on the maintenance crew.”  I’m pretty good with words in a clutch, and this is definitely a clutch moment, since I need the job bad. 

He looks up, but doesn’t say anything.  He’s now studying my face.  Then, “You ever win one?”

“Depends on what you mean by win,” I reply, but I knew what he meant.

“Pull that chair over and have a seat.  Let’s see what we got here.” 

I hand him my papers and walk over to the chair.  It’s heavy.  I’m not so young anymore, but I don’t let him know I’m having a problem.  I hear him chuckle behind me.

“I saw you the time Johnny Rocca worked you over.  Hope you got paid.” 

I turn around, straining with that huge chair in my arms.  He’s smiling big and, more than likely, mentally patting himself on the back for having such a great memory. 

I put the chair square in front of his desk.  As I sit down, I say, “Yeah.  I got paid.  Not enough, but I got paid.”  Fact is, I didn’t get paid, I got screwed.  You’d be surprised how often that happens in the fight game, and especially to pugs like me.  But I don’t really want that to get around, because I still got some pride.  I swallow a little of it and continue. “I need the job.  I can do the work, and you won’t regret hiring me.”  

Mr. P is sitting there, looking at me and not saying anything.  You have to wonder what’s going through his mind.  Suddenly, some small thing in him changes.  Leaning forward, he looks down at my papers, which he’s spread across his desk.  “I know I won’t regret it.”  He picks up a pen and signs the bottom of one the forms.  As he’s handing me the papers back, he asks, “When can you start?  I need you tomorrow morning.” 

“I’ll be here first thing.  Ready to go.”

He nods his head.  “Good seeing you again, Bruiser.” 

Bruiser.  Been a while since anyone called me that.  Anyway, a few minutes later, after having dropped my papers off in personnel, I’m walking down the street, and I’m feeling good.  I’ve always been lucky.  I am a lucky man.